Our Nation's First Battle Cry - Remember Paoli!
How many things can you think of that are almost automatically used today but started during the founding of the United States of America? Certainly there is Independence Day. And then there is… what? Veterans Day – no, most histories credit World War I for that. Memorial Day – no, again most histories credit the Decoration Day following the Civil War. Although, for both of these important Days, we can show you an earlier, documented starting point. Any other suggestions?
Here’s one. And it is uniquely American. Our Battle Cries over the past 240 years. They arise out of life and death situations, rallying a people to both resist and overcome enemies. They motivate not only those who fight but all those who support the fighters. They galvanize words into actions. Often outrage and vengeance fueled their use and repetition. They became national symbols. America’s first battle cry, used during the Revolutionary War, was Remember Paoli.
Over 1800 British Light Infantry (Special Forces) attacked 2000 hardened American Continental soldiers under Gen. “Mad Anthony” Wayne at midnight with bayonets and swords, dispersing them in one of the bloodiest battles of the War of Independence. But, in accomplishing the mission, the Redcoats committed numerous atrocities from murdering soldiers who surrendered, forcing some to stay inside small brush “teepees” at bayonet point while they burned alive, playing gruesome games with repeated bayonet stabbings on wounded men. This so outraged American civilians and soldiers alike that it crystallized American hatred of the British. Remember Paoli was heard repeatedly in later battles.
Two years later, Anthony Wayne led America’s first official Light Infantry unit in a midnight, bayonets only, attack against Stony Point, high on the Hudson Palisade. Wayne was successful. But more importantly, Wayne spared 600 captured British soldiers when all thought him justified to put them to the sword. Wayne took the high ground and no atrocities were committed.
Remember Paoli took on an additional luster for now it meant more than revenge. As Benjamin Rush (Founding Father, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Surgeon General of the Continental Army) said to Anthony Wayne: “You have established the national character of our country. You have taught our enemies that bravery, humanity, and magnanimity are the virtues of the Americans.”
The Battle of Paoli became one of the best known places in America for more than a hundred years. And Remember Paoli became the symbol of an American Value, referred to in hundreds of speeches and newspaper articles throughout the growing nation from coast to coast. It was only in the last century that our national memory of the battle faded. But the American Value remained and has been used repeatedly in times of military crisis up to this modern 21st Century.
Our national battle cries retain the same format as Paoli’s. It is unique to America and not used or copied elsewhere in the world. And where do you think the earliest annually held celebrations and parades to honor those who died protecting our nation and those who served in our military? You guessed it: the Paoli Battlefield Historical Park and Parade Grounds, now seeking National Historic Landmark status. In 1817, veterans of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 built a monument to stand atop the mass grave of 52 Continental Soldiers killed in the Battle of Paoli.
They started an annual parade which continues to this day (now known as the Malvern Memorial Parade). Our continuing research and documentation has found all but 20 years where this Parade tradition was held at the Paoli Memorial Grounds. And we haven’t even come close to completing our research. It very well could be that what is known as the oldest, continuously-held Memorial and Veterans Parade site in America, started 199 rather than 148 years ago.
Timeline of Remember…
Remember Paoli Above is our legacy. It is one we can be proud of and know that our military and our citizens still hold the values that forged.
Remember the Raisin (1813)
Nearly one out of every five U.S. soldiers killed in the War of 1812 was at Frenchtown near the River Raisin in Michigan. This battle cry spurred the United States to retake the Northwest Territories.
One of the most iconic battle cries, it involved the creation of the Republic of Texas before it became part of the United States. While raised from obscurity due to the popularity of a John Wayne movie and Walt Disney’s Davy Crocket series, it still captures that same American Value.
Remember the Maine (1898)
The sinking of the U.S.S. Maine and the death of most of its crew instigated the Spanish-American War, after the U.S. Congress made it plain that America was supporting Cuban independence from colonial Spain, and not interested in annexing the island.
Remember the Lusitania (1915)
The sinking of a British luxury liner with over 125 U.S. citizens on board by a German U-Boat violated international law and influenced America’s eventual declaration of war against Germany in WWI.
Remember Pearl Harbor (1941)
Started the U.S. involvement in World War II after the surprise Japanese bombing of our Naval base on Oahu, Hawaiian Islands.
Remember 9-11 (2001)
Remember 911 still rings in our ears today. America’s outrage against terrorists launched the longest war-time footing in U.S. history. The American Character brought out by this horrendous tragedy still endures.